Cross-cultural communication : an investigation into compliment response behaviour of Indian and African students at the Springfield College of Education.
This is a cross-cultural communication study which investigates the compliment response behaviour of Indian and African students at the Springfield College of Education. The Springfield College of Education is a desegregating institution where students of Indian origin presently comprise the majority of the student population with African students the minority. Due to the enforced racial divisions of the past students do not mingle freely with each other on the college campus. An additional complication is that the students come from different cultures and are accustomed to different social practices. This results in their responding differently to different communicative situations. These differing responses could be potential sources of miscommunication and conflict and therefore warrant investigation. Compliment response behaviour is one such area where intercultural miscommunication could easily arise. Since compliments are used to initiate, sustain and promote conversational interactions, not responding appropriately to them could result in possible feelings of antagonism and racial hostility. This study investigates the compliment response behaviour of Indian and African students at the Springfield College of Education, identifies areas of diversity and potential sources of intercultural miscommunication and presents a set of recommendations about the teaching of compliment response behaviour at the Springfield College of Education.The findings of this study are also compared with the findings of a similar study conducted by Chick (1991) at the University of Natal, Durban with a view to establishing what changes have occurred in the compliment response behaviour of Indian and African students since the time of Chick's (1991) study. This study reveals that there is a diversity in the compliment response behaviour of different ethnic groups and that this diversity is a potential source of intercultural miscommunication. However, the College lecturers can turn this diversity to advantage by using it in a teaching programme where an understanding of it is fostered. This would result in students understanding why miscommunication arises and would also enable them to react appropriately in different contexts. It is hoped that this study,which is very much pilot in nature, helps highlight issues that can become the subject of more detailed studies in this field.